Raising kids is a huge responsibility. A huge part of their upbringing is to protect and safeguard them from the dangers of the world. It is routine for parents to tell their kids how to behave in public. This includes not talking to strangers, not accepting anything to eat, and/or calling for help when they feel they’re in danger. Similarly, the virtual world is no different. Since your kids spend most of their day on the web through their laptops and cellphones, internet safety for kids is something that we must address at an early age.
From watching mature content, to downloading deceiving files, there are multiple ways through which the internet can affect your children. Internet safety for teens and kids goes beyond prohibiting their internet usage. Monitoring their activity, applying firewalls and VPNs, and educating them on the cons of the web are some of the most important steps that you could take to safeguard your kids, as well as your internet devices from viruses and malware.
In today’s article, we’re discussing the top 4 ways to ensure online safety for kids.
1. Talking to your kids
A parent-child relationship depends majorly on trust and openness. It is imperative for the parents to act as role-models of their offspring so that the little ones have someone to look up to when growing up. A major part of this relationship is the ability to be able to discuss problems and concerns openly. From having the puberty talk, to discussing relationships, as a parent you should never forget discussing about internet safety rules when you give your kids access to the internet.
Have open discussions with the young ones at the early age, warning them of how there are bad people in the world. You could link this discussion with bad people on the internet, trying to spread vile content, and then teaching the kids signs to lookout for, to stay safe from mature, harmful content.
2. Filtering out their access
You can never depend solely on verbally guiding your kids to stay away from harmful content. This is because at their age, it’s easier to slip because of intense levels of curiosity, as well as deception tactics of harmful content on the internet. To add a layer of security, you could set up content filters.
A content filter is basically a block-list, that restricts users from accessing websites. From restricting certain websites, to blocking entire categories, content filters ensure that your kids are only able to access content that you want them to.
Popular content websites give the option of a kids-friendly filter to their content. The biggest example of this is Netflix, where the “Kids” tab only features content that is perfectly appropriate for their age.
To save yourself the hassle of limiting websites one-by-one, the best thing you could do is install browsers for kids. These browsers are specifically made to filter out all websites to ensure that the content is appropriate for children. So, a browser like this would be a one stop solution for internet safety for kids.
Firewalls for incoming traffic are also a similar solution.
3. Restricting gaming time
With the prevalence of online gaming applications like PUBG and Fortnite, a very large percentage of kids spent a huge portion of their time playing on their handheld devices. From first person shooters, to strategic warfare, these types of games are known to promote violence and unrest in growing kids. When a young kid indulges deeply into combat and violence on a screen, those characteristics are bound to leave a mark on his personality, which would eventually cause him to act up in real life. From showing symptoms of anger, to trying to replicate warfare in real life, online gaming not only eats up the kids’ time, but is very harmful for their personality development.
There are two ways that you can fix this. Firstly, prohibit kids of a very young age to be able to download these apps at all. If they are trying to install them on a computer, be sure to block downloading through a kids-only browser. On the other hand, if they’re using a cellphone, restrict the gaming app using an app-blockers.
Another way to fix this is by restricting their use of the internet, of the device that they’re using. You could set up time-limits to make sure they don’t play games for more than a certain amount of time in a day. Ideally, ensure it is not more than 60 minutes a day.
4. Using a VPN
If there’s one thing that you must do before your kids access the internet, is install a VPN on their device. A VPN, or a Virtual Private Network, safeguards your identity and data on the internet, making sure that they’re safe from cyber attackers, and data thieves.
When a device connects to the internet, there are dozens of communication channels that are wide open to be exploited by hackers and even predators. This could involve stealing personal information, to access microphones and device cameras as well, with you or your kids knowing. Not only do these bad guys exploit your connection, they do so and then spread it around on the internet. This leaves you, and your kids, at a greater danger of exploitation.
This is where a VPN protects you, your kids, and your devices. This online safety tip ensures that your virtual identity is masked, and that all originating connections are protected and encrypted so there is no way a hacker can make way into it. This provides a layer of security on your device, prohibiting unwanted access to the microphone, camera, and key impressions. In addition to this, all data that is transported through a VPN is locked and cannot be intercepted in any way.
This 4-step guide is the easiest methodology you can adapt to ensure internet safety for kids. Easily executable, and practical, not only do these steps to protect your kids, but also give them appropriate internet access that they need to develop their minds in the age of technology!